Only Human

i282600889620944867._szw1280h1280_I often speak of those who find ways to be happy even in difficult circumstances. I don’t want anyone to misunderstand my thinking. There are indeed times when the only reasonable response to a particular situation is profound sadness. It would seem highly inappropriate to laugh in the face of the terrorism in Belgium. We carry on with our routines when we hear of such things but that heaviness lurking in our hearts is quite normal. As humans we oscillate between good feelings and bad. Hopefully our lives are such that we don’t encounter too many tragedies at once.

This has been a tough week. My emotions have been taxed, stretched to a breaking point. I was already praying for a friend who was awaiting word regarding some medical tests that might bring her unwelcome news. I had learned that an old friend had been hospitalized. Then, of course, there were the deaths in Belgium, senseless and frightening murders. This was also the anniversary of the day when one of my former students died in a terrible car wreck only months before she would have been married. I have followed her mother’s journey through grief. I have watched as this brave woman found ways to inspire those who know her with her faith and courage. Sadly, though, I have realized that her pain lingers in spite of her best efforts. My feelings of empathy for her have been quite strong during the last few days because I understand that dates on the calendar may be triggers for thoughts that are heavy and unbearable.  Continue reading “Only Human”

Conquering Our Fears

i282600889620853429._szw1280h1280_This is a sacred time of year. For Christians it is Holy Week, an occasion to remember the life, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He walked among us as a human being but many of us believe that He was truly the Son of God. He attempted to teach us how to live with one another. His message was simple but so difficult to follow. He only asked us to love our neighbors just as we love ourselves. He showed us how to do this by example. He modeled the behavior that He wanted us to also have. In the end even this good man who had done no harm to anyone was sentenced to death, executed like a criminal. In a last act of extreme compassion He forgave the thief who was penitent and the people who were responsible for killing Him. He commended His spirit into the hands of God, His Father. He died for all of us, not just some. We sometimes forget that He was so inclusive. 

We have suffered of late. We see the work of terrorists and we wonder what we can do, what we must do. We are shaken. We want to answer hate with love but we worry that to do so is naive and will only make things worse. Then again, we cringe at the idea of anger and force, even understanding that sometimes it is the only way to be safe. We are confused. In our anxious state of mind we strike out at one another. We attempt to find someone or some group to blame for what is happening. We exclaim that our leaders have let us down. Our hearts are sickened and we want to ignore the problems but we know that to do so will solve nothing. It is a dilemma and we worry that the path that we choose may be wrong.   Continue reading “Conquering Our Fears”

A Life Well Lived

i282600889620841921._szw1280h1280_When my brother, Michael, was only a small boy he often carried a book by Werner von Braun under his arm. He would flip through the pages and gaze at the illustrations long before he was able to read. It was a volume from my father’s library and it envisioned what space travel might be like if man were ever to venture to the moon. It was only natural that after Michael graduated from Rice University he would be drawn to NASA and the work that was taking place there. He turned down other opportunities that might have ultimately been as exciting in order to fulfill a lifelong dream of working with the men and women who wanted to conquer the frontiers far beyond our planet. He accepted a job as a NASA contractor and has never looked back.

His work put him in contact with people from a variety of companies and backgrounds. Along the way he noticed an attractive Asian girl and took the initiative to find out her name. He thought about her often and in a somewhat uncharacteristic fashion decided to attempt to contact her so that they might become better acquainted. Her name was Becky Liu.   Continue reading “A Life Well Lived”

A Day of Happiness

i282600889620795891._szw1280h1280_On March 20, 2013 the United Nations celebrated the first ever International Day of Happiness, decreeing that every human on earth has the right to pursue happiness. Sadly there is no possible way to insure that all people actually have a shot at feeling joyful, even if for only a day, but it is a noble cause. Perhaps a bit more publicity for the event might have been in order. It was promoted so quietly that I actually missed it altogether, as I suspect many did. I luckily had a most pleasant day but I wonder how many souls were too busy attempting to survive in a sometimes quite threatening world to be able to pause for twenty four hours to enjoy life the way that the UN intended?

Here in my tiny corner of the world March 20 was a sunny first day of spring with a nip of coolness in the air. In other words, for me the weather could not have been better suited to lifting my spirits. The fact that I had just completed a most lovely time camping with my grandchildren and then celebrated my sister-in-law’s retirement with my extended family heightened my spirits so much so that I found myself thanking God for the blessings that He has bestowed upon me. A mini-reunion with high school friends for the purpose of planning our fiftieth anniversary fling later this year brought laughter inside my heart. An evening Skype session with one of my grandsons was like the cherry on top of a rather perfect day.   Continue reading “A Day of Happiness”

Every Moment of Every Day

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Very little is needed to make a happy life: it is all within yourself in your way of thinking.”

—Marcus Aurelius

I sometimes think of myself as an old soul. I wasn’t born that way. It was thrust upon me. Like so many I took all of the blessings bestowed on me for granted. I believed that life would always be the same. I had a handsome brilliant father and a beautiful loving mother. Together they created an environment for me and my brothers that was comfortable and secure. Mine was a world of books, trips, celebrations, adventures and always a routine in which I might flourish. I was unaware of poverty, hate, dangers. Those were concepts so foreign to me that I rarely gave them a thought. My extended family of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins enriched my existence even more. My parents had good and loyal friends who often filled our home with laughter.  Continue reading “Every Moment of Every Day”